Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ed Rudy's story of the first American tour part 1

Reporter, Ed Rudy was lucky enough to travel with the Beatles when they first arrived in America.   In continuation of the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles, I am posting all three parts of Ed Rudy's story that he originally wrote in 1964.   I found these three parts re-published in the fanzine 'With a little help from my friends.'  Part one was from the January 1984 issue which was celebrating the Beatles 20th anniversary.   While there are some things in this article that we know now to be different (such as who said what at the press conference) it is always interesting to read something written at the time.

Ed Rudy has some Cds for sale of his interviews with the Beatles   They are really interesting.   Check it out. 

The first American Tour of the Beatles…from Start to Finish
By Ed Rudy (1964)

Beatlesmania and the Beatles is the story of the two most hectic and gear weeks in my life and it shall always be a long-remembered and cherished moment of my lifetime.  I was one of the privileged few—the only American newsman-announcer that took the entire U.S.A. tour with the Beatles.  It was exciting and fab all the way.  Every hour of every day was packed with interesting events and the greetings, from Beatle fans everywhere, were unbelievable.  Somewhere, during this two week period I contracted “Beatlemania” and this pleasant disease will be with me for a long, long time.
My story begins on Tuesday, February 7, 1964.  Little did I know when I picked up the telephone and wrote down my assignment, that I would be on the “go” night and day, and packing a week into every day for a solid two week period following the Beatle boys throughout their U.S.A. tour.  I was informed by my news services, Radio Pulse Beat News to meet a Boeing 707 at the Kennedy Airport in New York and conduct a tape interview with four young Englishmen going under the name of “The Beatles.”

February weather in New York is cold and this day was no exception.  The sky was clear and as I drove out the 10 miles or so to the Kennedy Airport, on the outskirts of the city, in the Queens suburb of New York, I thought about the tough problems encountered in air travel where airports are generally located at inaccessible fringe areas of the big cities that, often it takes longer to get to and from an airport than it does to fly to your destination.  The Kennedy Airport, by itself, is spread out over many, many square miles of ground.  There is even an airport bus service that shuttles travelers from one airline terminal to the other at Kennedy.

As I neared the airport, the air seemed charged with excitement and the airport itself looked unusually busy in the distance.  The parking lot was crowded with cars, across from the Pan-American terminal, and hundreds of people were streaming through the doors of the Pan-Am building.  I thought to myself, maybe some big world celebrity is coming in today. Perhaps I can interview whoever this important person may be and kill two birds with one stone.  I parked my car and with tape recorder in hand, proceeded over to the Pan-Am terminal.  Suddenly, I was told who this crowd had come to meet.  It was absolutely the most unbelievable sight one could see and, I doubt that I will ever see again until the Beatle boys come back to visit us.  This crowd, of over 8,000 people, made up mostly of teenagers, was on hand to greet the same Englishmen I was to interview…”the Beatles.”  It was amazing to see such a huge congregation of people, on a very cold day, travelling to such a tough spot to get to as Kennedy Airport on hand to greet a group of four boys who had only come into my life, a few hours ago who I had never heard about before.

As Pan-American’s silver Boeing 707 jet touched down, whistles and screams filled the air.  More than 400 correspondents, photographers and TV cameramen were on hand to record “The Beatle” arrival, which established a record in itself.  Never, before were there so many people on hand to greet anybody, in the history of the airport, and the din of the screaming and shouting was even louder than the jet engines as the plane taxied up to the arrival center.

Beatle fans, it was said, had begun farming as early as 4 a.m.  Friday morning,  although the Beatles weren’t due until mid-afternoon.  So some of the fans on hand had been waiting 10 or 11 hours for this moment to catch a fast glimpse of the Beatle boys as they emerged from the plane.  Now, the portable stairway was being fitted into place and a ground steward ran up the stairs to unlock the plane’s door. 

Bursting out, amid the most deafening din of “oohs” and “aahs” “screams” and “shouting” “whistles” and “cheers,” came one after another of the Beatle boys until there were four.  Here were The Beatles –four young Englishmen named John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr who had, already, this day established a record for having the greatest crowd of airport greeters on hand ever!

As the boys came down the stairway, they were hustled into a room set aside for a press conference.  The rear of the room was lined wall to wall with TV and newsreel cameramen.  Photographers and reporters pushed, shouted and cursed as they tried to get near the Beatle boys.  The unusually large room was bursting at the seams and still, many more were trying to get through the door and into the press conference room.  It was pure bedlam.  The press conference was a scene of wild uproar and confusion.  Unless you were practically on top of the Beatle boys, it was impossible to hear them.  It was near to impossible to tape an interview  for only a few seconds was the air cleared of chaos and confusion and the Beatles were able to answer a few of the questions shouted at them by newsmen.
“What do you attribute your success to?” was one of the questions asked.  The Beatles answered, almost in unison, “If we knew, we’d each become a manager with successful groups!”  Another question asked was, “Are you embarrassed by the Beatlemania you’ve created here in America? “to which they replied in unison, “No!”,   George added in a kidding manner, “We like lunatics anyhow!”  to his “no.”  A member of the press asked, “When are you going to get haircuts?”  Ringo shot back a fast, “We all had haircuts yesterday.  You should have seen us the day before!”
Another interviewer asked about what they thought of “Stamp out the Beatles Campaign” being started by a Detroit group.  Said George, “We’re organizing a Stamp out Detroit Campaign.”  Said Ringo, “how big are these fellows?”  When they were asked about what they thought of Beethoven, Paul replied, “We like him fine—especially his poems.”    One of their big hit records is, of course, “Roll Over Beethoven.”  Time allotted for the Press Conference passed quickly and it was time to take the Beatles to their cars and into the city to their hotel.  The crowded press room was soon emptied and all the reporters were off on the “Beatlebeat.”

Once outside the press conference room, each Beatle was assigned to a rented Hertz Cadillac limousine and we were among the very few reporters who managed to ride to the Hotel Plaza with them.  The four limousines trailed Beatle fans by the carload, but made amazingly good time reaching the city.

As the limousines rounded the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, where they Plaza Hotel is located they had to slow down and edge their way through crowds of Beatle fans.  The staid and plush Plaza Hotel was to be over-run with Beatles and the management will long remember this Beatle day.

Actually, the hotel did not really anticipate the Beatlemania bombardment when Bud Hellawell and Brown Megs of Capitol Records, had reserved Suites 1209 to 1216 for John, Paul, George and Ringo.  The Plaza is one of the New York’s oldest and most conservative hotels.  A plush landmark where the elite of society meet.

Yet, on Friday, the 7th of February, the Beatles got into the woodwork and the management had to cope with many problems never before encountered.  Private detective agency guards were hurriedly called in and the corridors leading to the 12th floor were guarded.  Other plainclothes detectives patrolled the stairways and entrances leading into the hotel.  The New York City police department had to assign a unit of 30 policemen on Beatle duty.  As well as providing a squad of mounted policemen on horses.  No exception or preferential treatment was given to the Beatles they were treated as any head of state or foreign potentate would be treated and protected.  Nevertheless, it was a little rough on some of the Beatle fans and police barriers for blocks around the Plaza hotel held back crowds of teenage fans. 

The Beatles had another press conference and several small sessions limited reporters to smaller groups each group given about 15 minutes to collect their news data with these interviews being held in their Plaza Hotel suite.  They ordered dinner sent up to their rooms, took a few hours off to rest and relax then presided over a party for New York’s disc jockeys when they decided to call a halt on their first day in the U.S. 

Saturday, February 8th, they awoke early in the morning, each calling the other on the house telephones from their individual rooms to arrange a time when they could get together for breakfast.
Both “Murray the K” a top New York deejay, on station WINS and I taped interviews with the Beatle boys.  During the interviews, George Harrison developed a sore throat.  So the hotel physician, a Doctor Gordon was called in right away.  The doc suggested that George should stay in bed.  George’s sister, who is married to an American and lives in Illinois, happened to be on hand.  She took over as a nurse for her brother. 

Paul, John and Ringo came to visit George, while he was in bed, to see how things were.  They were waiting for a transatlantic call from Brian Matthew, English deejay, from London.  Brian conducts the “Saturday Club” program and wants to tape an interview for his English audience of fans.
At around 10 in the morning, Paul, John and Ringo leave the hotel for pictures in the park for New York’s famous Central Park is across the street from the Plaza Hotel.  They check in again with George then leave with the American, English, Swiss, Belgian, Swedish and French photographers trailing after them.  The Cadillac limousines are left at the front of the hotel as a decoy.  Fan meanwhile have smartened up, and they too cross over to the park.  The huge crowd of Beatle fans create confusion so policemen start to try to create some order out of chaos.   They seal off part of Central Park and the boys pose for all kinds of photographs.  It is cold, there is a light snow on the ground and the lake is frozen.  One of New York’s few surviving horse-drawn carriages that take sightseeing groups through Central Park is engaged by the Beatle boys and they pose for more photographs riding on top of and driving the carriage through the park.  They are followed by the big crowd of photographers plus the mounted police and, of course, a large group of fans.

The limousines picked up the three Beatle  boys in the park and they heard from the television studio and converted theatre on 52nd Street and Broadway approximately ten blocks away from the hotel.  Beatle fans are everywhere and the going is rough.  Mounted policemen try to clear the way and eventually we get to the theatre room rehearsal of the Ed Sullivan show where again, we have to struggle through crowds of Beatle fans. 

The theatre is filled with more photographers, newsreel cameramen and reporters.  Before rehearsal, the Beatle boys must become members of AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) s they take time to sign up and join this union.


  1. Ed Rudy! Thanks so much for this!!!!

  2. Replies
    1. If you click on the "Ed Rudy" tag under this story, the other parts will show up. Hope that helps! Enjoy!

  3. "I found these three parts re-published in the fanzine 'With a little help from my friends.'"

    Where did Ed Rudy originally publish these stories in 1964?

  4. remember I had an lp of Ed Rudy interviewing George in 1964 and it was funny as George kept saying "you know"